Sunday, August 29, 2010


Create your own video slideshow at

Instead of lengthy descriptions, I decided to show you just a few of our most beautiful pictures. Best enjoyed with a nice tequila :-)!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

N is going to M

Et voilĂ . The suitcases are packed, the iPod is fully charged, the hamster is to her “grandparents”, the new passport is ready, and the fridge is (nearly) empty. Tomorrow it’s off to Atlanta, and from there to Mexico City. Two weeks of long awaited holiday.
I’m not taking my laptop – so no blog updates until I’m back. It’s an e-holiday as well (so 2010!). Unless something so amazing should happen that I absolutely have to write about it – then I’m sure I’ll find a way to let you all know :-) .
Hasta la vista dear readers, N is on her way to the other side of the Atlantic!

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's gone

The house where my great-grandparents lived. The house where my grandfather was born. The house where my grandparents lived. And where my mother was born and raised. The house where I spent every single day playing in the garden when I was a kid. Climbing in the cherry tree, cuddling rabbits, or spending hours in the attic reading old love letters from my dad to my mom. Where my grandfather engraved, in a piece of concrete floor, my name and the date on which I made my first steps. It’s gone. Three generations of family-history sold to strangers, who have no idea of the sentimental value it holds.

Sure, I’ve dreamed many many times of living in that house myself. I thought about how I would renovate it. How I would hold all the animals I ever wanted in the huge garden. But then my life took a different direction and the country-girl ended up in the city. Yes, I still wanted the house. But what about living in the middle of nowhere? Or what about a daily commute to work of at least two hours every single day? And finally: what about a husband who wants to live in a (big) city, period?
So when my grandmother died end of last year, I knew it would happen. The house had to be sold. Over the last few months, my mom has been trying to empty it (whenever she felt fit enough). Not an easy job. Three generations of pictures, lettres, books, clothes, furniture, etc. I went along once. We spent 4 hours in the house, and when we left, we had made no progress whatsoever. We had looked at pictures, and my mom told me everything she remembered about them. We had read old letters. And so on.

I should’ve helped my mom more. But instead I fled away from the whole “we have to empty the house”. It was just too painful, and I couldn’t be confronted anymore with my own decision of not living there – and keeping the house and all its memories in the family.
Yesterday my mom called me to tell me it was sold. To a young couple. Who are not afraid of living in the countryside. And I’ve been feeling awful. My chance of living there is now forever gone. There’s no use anymore of dreaming about how I would make the attic where I read all the love lettres into one big bedroom with a view on the garden and its cherry trees.

I have to go back one last time. I want to take pictures. Of my name in concrete. Of the cherry tree. But how am I going to keep the feeling that I always had there? The warmth of history, the feeling that my roots are there, the presence of family, even if they’re no longer with us?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

For mom

I guess when you’re too close to someone you fail to see what’s going on. It’s only when you take a step back, or when you try to look through the eyes of an outsider, that things become clear.

The people who are closest to me wonder what’s wrong when I have a silent or sad day (yes, even my parents). The people who look at my life from a distance, don’t even have to think twice. “But, your mom has been very ill for two years now! I wouldn’t know how I would cope.”

Indeed. Yes, I can be happy. I can have fun. I can have a great time, and laugh until tears stream down my cheeks. But it’s always, always there. The week she has her chemo treatment, I feel literally sick. I feel guilty if I fail to call her one day. I cry because there are so many things I’d wish to tell her – but I can’t, ‘cause she has already more than enough on her mind. The last thing she needs are my problems to worry about. And I’m happiest when I can spend time with her, enjoying it so much – because I know that every single minute is precious. I get angry at whoever fails to realize how ill she is. And I dearly appreciate those few friends who ask me how my mom is every single time they see me.

One evening, I was going through some of my poetry books, and one of them fell open on a poem about chemotherapy. It’s in Dutch, but I’ll give it a try, and freely translate it into English. It was so real, and so to the point… As if someone had crawled into my head, and written down everything I felt.

“Chemoterapie “ (Luuk Gruwez)

The dearest I have, is connected to a strange infuse
Through which her future has to drip into her
A future that disguises itself into strange names
Such as fluroblastine and methotrexate

The dearest I have, even doesn’t have a name anymore
It’s so helpless that it forgets itself
and becomes irreparable as a human being.

Doctors, pills, hospital visits and recipes
are noted down in diaries
The only thing that’s not allowed an entry is her death
To him, she has one thing to say:
“I don’t have time, I have to love”

Grey is the new blond

(N in her car, doing a last mirror-check before getting out)
Wow, that's a really blond hair
Is it the reflection of the sun?
Hmm, and it's long and curly too
Wait? Is it really blond?
No, can't be
(N is by now 1 inch removed from the little mirror)
No's grey!
(*pluck* N pulls the grey hair out)
Oops..maybe shouldn't have done that.
Mom says if you pull one out, you get two
Ah well
(N is now studying in detail her first grey hair)
Hmm, it's actually not really ugly
It's just ..white.
I should keep this somewhere
(N puts grey hair in empty ashtray of her car)
There. Sigh.
The proof that old age has set in.

I walk into the school, I open my computer, I go to the lifestyle pages of my online newspaper. And the first thing I read is "Grey is the new blond: is Lady Gaga setting a trend?"
Damn. Really shouldn’t have pulled the hair out.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Every other day of the week is fine...

On the down-side :
- it was Monday, and I had a “great weekend hang-over”
- I had 8 hours of teaching to get through
- I had a really bad hair day
- PMS is making me super weepy
- I couldn’t find another Danny Wallace book in Brussels
- I’m utterly, completely broke

On the up-side :
- It was finally a bit sunny again
- The new student I squeezed into my schedule is nice and motivated
- My credit card is still working, so I could buy lunch and a newspaper
- I was allowed to complain to one of my best friends all night long while she fed me ice cream
- It’s evening and the day is over